I have 2 East Friesian I bought and am hoping to milk them. I only have 1/3 acre and have it divided into 3 paddocks. I am considering buying a ram for the fall only. I honestly am afraid of rams and have kids and don't want anyone injured. Also, the sheep share the small barnyard with the chickens and are in this separate enclosed area alot. There is a gate from the barnyard that goes out into the small pasture. If I bought a ram in the fall, can I butcher it in January or February and plan on eating it or would it not taste any good?
Is it possible to search online locally for someone willing to 'rent' or trade you services? Or could you resell the ram for or near your initial purchase price when you were finished with him(I feel terrible typing that, hah)?
My rams(blackbellies) don't tend to make it 'up in age' before they're tabled or sold... but at 3 years, I found the meat to be absolutely palatable. With my sheep at least, I have been taught to 'cure' them in a cold environment in burlap for a week- but haven't actually tried it any other way. Not sure the impact that actually makes.
As for temperament... I would encourage you to spend some time at the site you are purchasing from(as opposed to a livestock auction unless that's your only option). Load yourself or be involved or at least present for the loading. I think you'll get a good judge of character that way. Also, I've never purchased a ram who was handled by the horns that I know of... I learned that with goats. If they aren't handled by the horns, they don't seem to see them as 'tools of communication'.
I'd also suggest keeping him in one of the paddocks separate from everyone/everything else for a while and visit him with treats a few times without and then with the kids to see how he's adjusting to his new environment.
I'm not a 'sheep' guy though... only been doing it a few years... Others with more experience will likely offer their guidance as well.
*edit* it seems from a quick google that they're naturally polled? But then I found a picture of a ram that wasn't... would your anticipated ram have horns?
Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.
When it comes to whether an animal is going to be a problem, I have found that horns and gender make little difference. It's all about personality. A neighbors wife was nearly killed because she got between a cow and her calf. I've had male goats, bulls and sheep with and without horns and they have been absolute sweethearts. Same with roosters. I've had female cows and every other kind of four leggeds and wingeds that were nuts. What I've learned over the years is the number one first rule is that none of your animals must ever be allowed to get over on you. You can never act afraid and you can never let them be boss. You must always be the herd or flock alpha (So must your partner and kids). You are probably going to get hurt if you do the wrong thing or act afraid. Animals can tell by the way you move, or act, or smell. If you are going to be afraid, you probably shouldn't have that kind of animal.
As to the particulars to your question, You can buy, or "rent" or take your animals to someone else's farm for breeding. Whatever you do, I believe you should try to find the best behaved animal you can find. I've always kept and bred animals in part according to personality. I don't know for sure that personality is passed on. But it has always seemed to me that along with confirmation, intelligence, growth rate, milk production, behavior is also often passed on. And I simply don't want any bad behavior or danger on our farm. If somebody acts up, the easiest thing for me is to sell them off. And, so far, I haven't been butted, or kicked or pecked in 40 years. As for age of animal effecting taste, we've never had a problem, but common consensus is that boars get a taste after 1 year, a billy after 1 1/2 or two years, and rams -nobody has ever said anything, but I suppose they might begin to get a bit randy about the same as billies. I think it is mostly a smell/age issue at the auction houses around here. They don't want to take any chances, so they sell for use according to age.
Creating sustainable life, beauty & food (with lots of kids and fun)
Here is a secret that you can never share with anyone, just because...
Lambs are young and tender, but mutton has a higher moisture content. If you take the two extremes you end up with the best tasting sheep possible; a yearling. This is what we slaughter on our farm for our own use. But older lamb is not that bad even at a few years of age. The taste quality depends on how it is butchered, and thus the butchering process. Some do better than others at scraping off the fat that is on the OUTSIDE of the meat. Unlike beef, lamb or mutton does not "marble"...or put the fat through the muscle. It is that fat that can taint the flavor of the meat.
As for nasty rams, they are not all that common. Take care of their needs and they are generally fine. I have had 2 in all the years I raised sheep, and in that time I have had a lot of rams. I will not tolerate a nasty ram however. They take out backs and knees and I am not going to get a $25,000 back injury from a $250 ram. But again, the chances of getting a nasty one is slim.
Rams don't pee on themselves like a Goat does, so no taint that way, they also don't hold testosterone for months (Boar Taint in hogs). As long as they have no ewes in or just out of heat, your Ram will taste fine.
goats also will loose some of the taint if there are no does for him to try to impress, it won't all go away but some of it will and soaking the meat in butter milk for a day or two will lessen the taint quite a bit.
Hogs, it depends on the breed as to if they will have taint or not, Pinks, and most "modern" breeds will have more taint than Kune Kune or Old Spot or American Guinea Hog, these last three will loose their taint (1-2 months) after the last sow's heat cycle.